What you say makes sense. However, let me give an
alternate view. Question: how many lives have been saved in the last 10 years by ELT’s? My guess is zero to ten. The amount of effort we spend on ELT’s is out of proportion with the difference in survival that they (rarely) make. I.e., no question that crashes happen and (sometimes) the ELT is activated. Happens frequently. But how often does the ELT’s transmission make a difference in someone living or dying? I’ve read a lot of accident reports and have never heard of a case where it did. I’d be happy to hear that I’m mistaken and all the effort we spend on ELT’s, their maintenance requirements, their battery requirements, etc. is worth it. So please let me know.
Rob Bedichek, SR22 #38
PS. I have crashed and would have died of exposure had we not walked out. The ELT never activated, despite the crash killing the pilot and completely destroying the aircraft. We looked for the ELT on the chance that it hadn’t tripped (and it hadn’t), but couldn’t find it. The search party started looking five miles away. With dense fog in a forrest in the winter, they would not have found us in time. An ELT might have helped, had it tripped and had we been unable to walk to safety. But it didn’t trip and we were able to walk. I say don’t sweat the 121.5 MHz ELT’s – ELT’s make little difference and lots of people (including myself) monitor 121.5 when not talking to ATC.
PPS. With long posts and the web interface, I suggest that we put our replies at the beginning of reply-to posts instead of at the end. It means that readers don’t have to scroll past the same long quoted original posting for each reply they read.
Now that satellite-based monitoring of 121.5 MHz distress alerts is scheduled to be terminated in Feb of 2009, plus the more important fact that the current ELTs are, in practice, of very limited value, has anyone asked Cirrus to install the new 406 MHz ELT as an option?
See the Jan/Feb 2001 copy of FAA Aviation News for a good comparison of the two distress-alert systems. You won’t be very comfortable with your old-fashioned ELT!